Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Bible's contradictions, inconsistencies, errors and what-nots... What do they mean?

Well, it depends on whether you are a fundamentalist, and on how much of a fundamentalist you are.  If you subscribe to the "Fundamentals" as published 100 years ago, then you believe there are no irreconcilable inconsistencies in the Bible. If you are the kind of uber-fundamentalist modern fanatic, you believe there are no inconsistencies at all.  Of course, that also means you haven't actually read the thing.

The many contradictions, inconsistencies, and errors in the Bible are proof that the Bible can't possibly be the inerrant perfect document they believe it to be.  This means that their God isn't the perfect God they believe him to be, because the Bible is His book.  Or it means that the Bible is entirely the product of the human imagination, with a bit of history thrown in to make it more convincing.

And yes, Christians are taught to believe in the perfection of the Bible (which they know is perfect because the Bible says it is).

They get around the disagreements amongst the gospel accounts of Jesus' life by claiming the Bible is the accurate representation of what the witnesses said.  This doesn't account for the differences between the two genealogies of Christ, nor does it explain why Christ even has a genealogy traced through Joseph if he was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

The key word is "irreconcilable."  Reconciling the inconsistencies and contradictions of the Bible is part of  what's called "apologetics."

For the first time in history, we can read both sides of the debate online.  So as an example, the Jesus genealogy, this essay brings up some interesting points, including a curse on some of the kings in Joseph's lineage.  Thebibleanswer guy claims it's cultural, and anyway the Luke genealogy is through Mary's family.  Paul Carlson says that's baloney, since people of the time believed that sperm alone were the source of a baby and the woman was merely the incubator.

A Mormon site claims the Matthew lineage was about legal, not genetic, succession.  Fair enough.  Then they point out that Luke's version could apply to either Mary or Joseph since they were cousins.  This seems to come from what Catholics call "tradition."

Apparently, you can reconcile the infallibility of the Bible with its inconsistencies by having a Perfect Deity fail to insert qualifiers saying why the two are different.  You can also leave out aspects that could be read "wrong," such as a cursed king being part of Jesus' lineage.

And you can interpret writings as human-inspired despite the Bible supposedly being inspired by God.  If the reason for both lineages was to convince two groups of people of Christ's valid claim to be the next great King, then that makes them propaganda, not history.


Eric Haas said...

Never underestimate the power of the human mind to rationalize away inconvenient evidence.

Never Was An Arrow II said...

I'll respond to this post—when I've stopped laughing.

There are NO 'problems' with the Bible that can't be reconciled. There are lots of COMPREHENSION problems, though.

Lots, lots, of troglodytes out there—

Robert the Skeptic said...

For me, Bart Ehrman's book, "Misquoting Jesus" was a revelation for me. I know many Christians just assume that the apostles wrote the first books of the new testament themselves. Ehrman points out to glaring differences in the stories between each testament. He also traces back to when in history some of these changes were actually made.

"Misquoting Jesus" CLEARLY demonstrates that the bible is a work of fiction.

LadyAtheist said...

Ehrmann's latest book makes a case for some of the writings of Paul being forgeries. The inconsistencies between the "real" and the forgeries are part of the case he makes.

Hex said...


I've been lurking here off and on for a while, and I thought there were some good comments made along these lines in the last thread. When you get some time, could you maybe give those arguments the attention they deserve?

Never Was An Arrow II said...

"Belief in Protestant fundamentalism naturally might lead to atheism, because the Bible was not meant to be read in isolation from Christian Tradition.

Ehrman's agnosticism is pretty predictable given his background."


Credible biblical scholars don't accept Bart's assertions.

LA, I noticed the local grocer has a big sale on unicorn meat—should I pick you up some??

LadyAtheist said...

The troll that I banned has been reading the Bible in isolation and he's batshit crazy. I think if Christianity is to continue, it should throw out the Bible completely, admit that it's a cultural institution and not really historical, and just go on praying and singing and feeding the poor, which are not bad things to spend your time on.

FlyingSpaghettiMonster said...

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